Chatwood thrilled to be back facing big leaguers

Righty has not started MLB game since April 2014

March 5th, 2016
Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood tossed two innings vs. the San Diego Padres on Saturday. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)Chris Carlson/AP

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The best part of an up-and-down performance Saturday for Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood was that a 22-month wait since his last big league confrontation was over.

Chatwood threw two innings, struck out two and gave up a run on one hit and two walks in a 9-5 win over the Padres. It was his first outing against Major Leaguers since April 29, 2014 -- before undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on July 19 that year.

"It was awesome just to have a chance to get back out there -- I'm real grateful for it," Chatwood said. "I'm obviously a little frustrated giving up a run, walking those two guys. But all in all I felt really good and threw some good pitches."

Chatwood breezed through the first inning, throwing all fastballs. He began to mix pitches in the second, and showed that sharpness is going to take time. Yangervis Solarte's leadoff double started the trouble, and two walks while he fought with his timing out of the stretch led to Christian Bethancourt's one-out sacrifice fly.

"Even though I had two walks, they weren't big misses, just need a little tweak to get back in it," Chatwood said. "That was the plan, to stay aggressive and pound the zone."

The Rockies count on Chatwood, 26, to stay in the zone. Since joining the team in 2012 after a trade with the Angels, Chatwood is 14-11 with a 4.05 ERA in 43 games (36 starts). After two seasons with a rotation that finished at or near the bottom of the Majors in major statistical categories, the Rockies hope Chatwood is part of a turnaround.

Chatwood finished last season with four Minor League rehab appearances at the Class A Advanced level. By then he was anxious after a longer-than-expected recovery. He wanted back on the mound in 12 months. The concern that noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews had was repeating an operation that Chatwood had as a teenager.

"When they get scared is when they have to keep going back in there and the bone hasn't had a chance to heal," Chatwood said. "Mine was 10 years after, so the bone had completely healed. Dr. Andrews told me it was almost like doing a first-timer because the bone had healed so well."